Blood Alley 3
Reviewed by Gray Palmer
Zombie Joe’s Underground
Through June 10
Blood Alley 3 is a collection of quick, mostly wordless moments — about 50 of them — separated by blackouts. And because we are deprived of words, but never stop seeking narrative connection, the show invokes a phantom shape, invokes, with groping tentacles of meaning (touching so much of the naked flesh here). The show immediately invokes a shape hovering overhead like a nighttime thief — or like a flock of carrion birds. Violent sterility, impotence and rage, flaccidity, tumescence where it doesn’t belong, confusion of scale — and there’s no direct defense against that buzzing! — vertigo — with an actual danger of falling from a window — and that tower room must be full of blood!
On the sidewalk after the show, as I was seeking to adjust my condition by smoking a cigarette, another smoker suddenly appeared (on my blind side) and puzzled me by asking in a miniature bullfrog voice, “What did you think?”
But I couldn’t think — and so I said, “I have to recover before I can start… thinking.”
Zombie Joe’s Blood Alley 3 is an American pop version of a visit to the priapic garden. Pulp poetics, or “unpoetic poetics,” is certainly a part of this psycho-sexual game. As it has been since the Carmina Priapea, undateable by scholars (possibly Augustan), a collection of sacred-sexual poems, anti-poems really, Latin lyrics of sexual play. The earliest surviving manuscript is a transcription by Boccaccio in the 14th century.
Director Zombie Joe sees this domain through the lens of the modern weird. As H.P. Lovecraft writes, “The one test of the really weird is simply this — whether or not there be excited… a profound sense of dread, and of contact with unknown spheres and powers; a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities on the known universe’s utmost rim.”
Blood Alley 3 with its beautiful, brave, hard working and probably bruised company of performers and crew — with the great contribution of live music by Kevin Van Cott on electric guitar and drums — gets the dreadful business done. The ensemble is Patrick Beckstead, Jason Britt, Nicole A. Craig, Michelle Danyn, Shayne Eastin, Shannon Garland, Juan Carlos Gough, Amanda McKenna, Elif Savas, Brandon Slezak, Kevin Van Cott, Matthew Vorce, and Yael Wallace.
Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat. 8:30 pm.; through June 10. (818) 202-4120, zombiejoes.com. Running time: one hour without intermission.